Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Experiencing Bat Manga with Chip Kidd Part 1

Ok so everyone’s been talking about Bat Manga. Everything from how did the Japanese version of Batman get discovered to when is the next book tour date. Well, here’s the thing, before I interviewed Chip Kidd, I had to do research on what questions were asked in regards to Chip Kidd and Bat Manga. There was A LOT of things already covered, so I had to try really hard to come up with questions that Mr. Kidd may not have answered. So the approach I took was related to his perspective and experience with Bat Manga. As I said before, I just want people to understand Mr. Chip Kidd's perspective and hopefully they will learn about the work and process he went through. By the way there are a couple of questions related to library and archives ☺

The first couple of questions I asked Mr. Kidd were from his non-fan and non-authorship perspective. One was what makes the content of Bat Manga valuable that it had to be published in the United States? The other was what was the goal for the book in the US? Mr. Kidd said, “I think the work itself— that is, the cartooning of Jiro Kuwata—has been very much overlooked in the United States, and I wanted to try and correct that while he is still active. Also, for anyone who is interested in the history of Batman in the comics (and that is a lot of people), I felt that I owed it to them to reveal this work. These are really fun, entertaining stories drawn with tremendous skill.”

Speaking of the history of Batman, since the book has historical content, I felt that it could be used as a teaching tool. I was wondering if Mr. Kidd felt the same way and he does. Mr. Kidd thinks the book would be good for those who study sequential art. Along with these students, those who study the history of manga may benefit from Bat Manga.

Now Batman the character has been here for many years now, so it is part of US culture and comic history. I was wondering what about Bat Manga? Will it affect the US on a cultural or social level? The thing is the adventure had just begun. According to Mr. Kidd
“That’s impossible for me to say. It’s too early to tell, for one thing. All I know is the reviews have been excellent, and the level of enthusiasm for the project on the web has been great.”

Even though everything thing has just started, Mr. Kidd hopes the book would have enough success so that they could one day “publish a second volume of the same or greater length. We have found enough material in order to do that, and it would complete some of the story fragments that we didn’t have room to include.”

Experiencing Bat Manga

There maybe some fans out there who would want to do a project related to Batman. Whether it is big or small, it is still hard and it takes dedication and determination to get the job done. Another thing one would need is preparation. I have no idea what life is like when working on Bat Manga and there are probably those out there who want to do a project such as this and may not know either. So who is the best person to ask about experience as an author, graphic designer and working on Bat Manga? Chip Kidd.

One of the things I wanted to know was Mr. Kidd’s typical day when he has to work on the Bat Manga book, like does he have a schedule to follow and what activities did it involve. “The most tedious aspect of putting the book together was retouching out all the Japanese dialogue in Photoshop, which I did all by myself and I almost went mad with boredom doing it.” He thought the process of retouching would be done in no time, but to his realization “it didn’t, at all.” Another thing that was part of his schedule is the Bat Manga book tour. “The schedule for the tour last fall was pretty intense, but only for a few weeks, and I do enjoy meeting fans of the book and introducing people to Mr. Kuwata’s work. It was very worthwhile to do it.”

Since I never lived the live of a book author, another thing I wanted to know was the ups and downs during the whole Bat Manga process from discovery to touring. I know in any work and activity, not everything is picture perfect. What one may think or had in mind may not be what it is in reality or maybe things can get frustrating and stressful. “The most frustrating thing about putting the book together was going from worrying at the beginning that we would not be able to find enough material for a substantial book, to then gradually facing the opposite problem—we actually had too much, and I had to go back to the publisher and beg for an additional 100 pages. And we got them, but that wasn’t nearly enough to include everything.”

So from hearing what Mr. Kidd goes through, does that mean there is more to being an author and cover designer of the Bat Manga then just getting your work done and getting paid? “For me to do a book like this (one that requires a LOT of work and time), I have to absolutely love the subject matter or it’s not worth it.” He hopes that through the book it would show that he loves Mr. Kuwata’s work on Batman, along with the Japanese interpretation of Batman on all the items, such as toys and all the other things displayed in the book. In regards to getting paid to do the work, Mr. Kidd had to be honest with me. From what he told me, the pennies he earned did not go into his pockets. “I will be very honest and say that any money I or Saul Ferris got for doing this book, we put right back into making it, and a lot more of our own money beyond that as well. This was not about making a profit for us, because we know that’s not feasible. DC Comics has none of this material in its archive; we had to obtain it all on our own.”

The article is really long for a post, so tune in tomorrow for Part 2!
© 2009 Linda Thai

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